Trish Dromey explores a lovely Scandinavian-style architect-designed stone and timber home set in woodland near Ballyvaughan, Co Clare.
IT’S no real surprise to discover that the cheesemaker who built this cedar-clad chalet in the woodlands of Ballycahill in the Burren once lived in Sweden.
Ballyvaughan, Co Clare €359,000
Size: 170 sq m (1,830 sq ft)
Mostly cedar clad on the outside, it has the rustic simplicity of a traditional Scandinavian-style property with painted timber panelled ceilings and walls on the inside as well as latched timber doors and an open fireplace with a stove.
When it featured on the cover of Ireland’s Home Interiors & Living magazine in 2004, it was described as having a “Scandinavian arboreal feel” recalls its owner, Ben Johnson.
He and his wife Jeanette bought the slightly more than one acre wooded site in 1998. It was just up the road from Aillwee Cave where Ben’s family business involves guided tours of the cave, famous for its stalagmites, stalactites and bear bones, and which in winter doubles as Santa’s Grotto. The enterprise also includes a falconry centre and the production of an award-winning cheese developed by Ben.
“When we bought the site for the house it was overgrown with hazel and, unusually, had a grove of aspens,” says Ben, adding that they did a little clearing but kept as many trees as they could.
Enlisting the aid of his school friend, architect Ralph Bingham, they designed a house to fit into a natural hollow in the sloping site.
The home they built consists of a stone-clad lower semi basement level, topped by a timber-framed cedar-clad chalet. The stones used for the cladding were gathered up from around the site.
It was Ben’s wife Jeanette who was responsible for the Scandinavian — or possibly New England style — decor which led to it being featuring in an interiors magazine.
Sadly she passed away two years ago, and Ben is reluctantly putting their woodland home on the market.
Brian McMahon of DNG Brian McMahon auctioneers says it is a unique and interesting house in a particularly attractive location.
“It’s nestled amid the peace and tranquility of the beautiful Burren hills, and is just a mile and a half from the ever-popular seaside village of Ballyvaughan,” says Mr McMahon, quoting a guide of €359,000.
Offering over 1,800 sq ft of living space, the four-bed property was built in 2000.
The main living spaces on the upper level — the kitchen, living room and dining room/sunroom — all have white timber-panelled ceilings and walls. The decor style is traditional and simple — there are no curtains, only open blinds on the large windows which frame the views of the Burren hills and the surrounding countryside.
The kitchen has white fitted units with timber countertops, as well as a range cooker while the sitting room has a large alcove with a wood burning stove. The dining room on the gable end has sufficient number of windows to quality as a sunroom.
Also at the upper level is an en-suite master bedroom, another traditional-style room with timber panelling on the walls and ceiling and double doors which open out on to the decking at the gable end. The lower level has a bathroom, an integral garage, and three additional bedrooms, all with panelled ceilings and timber wainscoting on the walls.
Outside, there is a natural woodland garden with a few impressively tall trees and a polytunnel.
Mr McMahon believes that its Burren setting and proximity to the Wild Atlantic Way makes the property hugely attractive to holiday home buyers: “The area is full of megalithic sites and is renowned for hill-walking, surfing, kayaking as well as Aillwee Caves and the Cliffs of Moher.”
Noting that the area is also famous for that this part of Clare is also famous for its pubs and impromptu traditional Irish music, Mr McMahon says the house is also getting viewings from city buyers who see a move to the West of Ireland as a lifestyle choice.
VERDICT: A slice of Scandinavian style simplicity amidst the scenic hills of Clare